Whether it's a police detective who investigates crimes or a private detective hired by a husband to uncover his wife's affair, a detective is someone whose job is to find out hard-to-get information.

Detective comes from the Latin root detectus meaning to uncover or expose. Detectives detect, or discern and uncover the truth, the way a dog might detect an odor and uncover a bone. Sherlock Holmes, perhaps the most famous detective in fiction, used disguises, deductive reasoning and forensics to solve crimes. "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth," he famously said.

Definitions of detective

n a police officer who investigates crimes

investigator, police detective, tec
dick, gumshoe, hawkshaw
someone who is a detective
a detective who wears civilian clothes on duty
an investigator who is employed to find missing persons or missing goods
Type of:
officer, police officer, policeman
a member of a police force

n an investigator engaged or employed in obtaining information not easily available to the public

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PI, operative, private detective, private eye, private investigator, shamus, sherlock
someone who can be employed as a detective to collect information
sleuth, sleuthhound
a detective who follows a trail
hotel detective, house detective, house dick
a private detective employed by a hotel or retail store
inquiry agent
a private detective
store detective
a private detective employed by a merchant to stop pilferage
Type of:
someone who investigates

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